We got on the road at 7am making our way west to El Encanto, en Puntarenas about a three hour drive with a stop off in Mirador for a tasty empanada before arriving a tour destination. The good news was we arrived safely, geared up ready to go and the bad news was that apparently we needed to have reserved the hike in advance and the trail needed to have been cleansed of ticks! Sadly no guide was available and the route was unprepared. Usually with a reservation the 11 kilometer hike is guide led and tick free. Although offered the opportunity to take a modified route and risk the risks I decided against it and took up the offer of peaking a nearby mountain with Marcos.
When things don’t go like you expect you have to adapt and identify ways to create a positive moment.Sometimes there’s nothing better traveling solo than when you figure out solutions with strangers to get something positive out of the moment. We did just that, we peaked a 3000 foot mountain, decided to regroup at lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean region at 2000 feet eating the local fare and listening to the locals advised to do a bit of mild bouldering at the base of the mountain.
Marcos and I got to the canyon which had a good water flow coming down the mountain. I got to the gap where we would clamber up the river and I witnessed live nature television. I watched a lizard run across about 12 feet of water and climb over the stones and into the forest siding. It was a moment I will recall for as long as I can. It moved so quickly with purpose it was quite a sight. Then Marcos led us into the trail and we took three steps and he stopped me and pointed to a snake laying across our path, taking no chances we went well around it so as to make it vlear we were no threat to it, then blow me down a falcon flew above us to perch on a tree. It all happened so quickly it was hard for me to take it all in. and Marcos said with a cheeky smile “Welcome to Costa Rica”.
We spent a about an hour exploring the canyon being mindful of where we stepped and placed our hands to avoid harming to any life there. We headed back on a different route to San Jose stopping off after about an hour and a half of driving for a beverage by a local beach with the locals chatting and enjoying the moment. As usual the traffic into San Jose was a nightmare.
Today was n’t the day I had in mind but it was very useful. This excursion would be too far to drive in a day and do it well with students. It required much more local knowledge and expertise than we can pay for or organize beyond the normal programming. Healthwise the tick situation is not one I want to risk for students and the weather conditions (not just heat) distance and elevation of the hike might be too much for some folks. For example there was no wind on the mountain yesterday, today we were almost swept off our feet the wind was so strong at 300 feet. I had to grip on to trees and change my body position to avoid being blown off balance.I did not expect this. I checked the weather conditions frequently before arriving and it was not even mentioned in any report sites I used to educate myself. All these facts together I’d say this event would be ideal for an individual with time, resources and an excellent local guide for this region. There’s quite a difference in climate,terrain and risk across Costa Rica and I think being conservative with my decisions is the way to go thinking about the student group. Lastly, I now know to add one hour of travel time to any excursion requiring us to reenter San Jose from 4 miles out.
Another full day tomorrow and more memorable experiences to have.